When Raping Women Becomes A Game It's Up To All Of Us To Say Game Over
It’s 2019, and someone thought it was okay to make a video game about raping women.
The game, imaginatively entitled ‘Rape Day’, is set in a post-zombie apocalypse world. The main character is described as a ‘menacing serial killer rapist’. Raping women in the game is encouraged to propel the plot forward, unlocking new storylines and abilities for the player.
That’s right. It’s 2019 and we’re encouraging rape for a bit of virtual fun.
The game was released in March after a platform agreed to host it and make it available for sale. Amid global outcry, a Change.org petition called for the game to taken down --which the platform eventually did, citing "unknown costs and risks" in its decision.
Now, the developer is planning to release the game independently in April, and in most countries, it will be available for purchase and play.
Other than the fact that it is incredibly concerning that a game developer thinks it's okay to make a game of raping women, it has far wider implications for the attitudes of people who play the game, and their perception of what constitutes rape and sexual assault. Studies have shown that individuals who engage with these games are not only more likely to act in a sexually aggressive and dangerous way towards women, but they are also more likely to buy into ‘rape myths.’
The term ‘rape myth’ refers to attitudes that lessen, or simply deny rape claims. It's defined as “attitudes and beliefs that are generally false, but are widely and persistently held and that serve to deny and justify male sexual aggression against women.”
Add to this the fact that people who engage with violence in video games are more likely to be aggressive and violent in real life, and you have a game that poses serious risks to women in our community.
In this era of #metoo, where women are more likely to be killed by their intimate partner than by a stranger, where it is estimated one in five women has experienced sexual violence in her lifetime and where revenge porn is saturating the internet, a game like this is not just disgusting, it is not just vile, belittling and hateful -- it is irresponsible, negligent, abhorrent and dangerous.
To do anything less than rally against it, talk to people about it, warn people of the real-world consequences of this gamification of rape is to be complicit.
Already, rape and sexual assault are not taken seriously enough in our community. Thousands of rape kits are left untested. Thousands more people do not report rape in the first place. And so many who do are simply not believed. Perpetuating rape myths (popular examples include: ‘she wanted to be raped’ and ‘most women enjoy being forced into sex’) in the form of a ‘fun’ video game no less, is despicable.
Not only for women, who are in greater danger, but for men who play these games and truly do not understand how wrong and damaging these beliefs are.
This video game will most likely be banned in Australia, which is a start. But there are so many ways around that that there is no doubt in my mind that soon, people in my street will be playing it.
The only way to fight this is to combat the attitudes as they come up -- and fast. We need to teach kids about respectful relationships. We need to take women seriously when they report sexual assault and rape, rather than asking how low-cut their top was. We need to make it clear to everyone in our lives that 'no means no', and anything other than enthusiastic consent should be taken as such.
This game should have never been created in the first place. But it has been -- and we have a responsibility to do something about it.